⓱Cord Cutting – DirecTV NOW Channel Line-Up Announced 


AT&T will go live with their internet TV streaming service on November 30th. DirecTV NOW will have 4 generous packages as well as add-on options for individual premium channels. The basic package costs only $35 monthly and has over 60 channels. Major broadcast networks are included and the local networks in select markets [CBS is a separate app and payment for now].

It will stream over Apple, Android and Amazon devices in addition to your personal computer. AT&T mobile users will have unlimited allowances for DirecTV content via cellular data.

I’m ditching Comcast this month and getting the free Apple TV promo at sign up. Cord-cutters rejoice!

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Apple’s Newest USB-C Dongles — All 24 of them

Apple’s latest MacBook Pro has ditched the USB, SD, DisplayPort, ethernet and HDMI ports in favor of the newer USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 variety. Now none of your current USB devices will connect without an adapter. 

Fortunately the Apple Store has a full array of USB-C dongles for every possible circumstance.
There are two essential adapters:

  1. To convert USB-C ports to accept your older USB devices you will want  several of these adapters
  2. To connect your iPhone to your MacBook you will want one of these

And here are all the rest: 

USB-C to Lightning Cable (1m)

USB-C to Lightning Cable (2m)

USB-C to USB Adapter

Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter

USB-C Charge Cable (2m)

USB-C Power Adapter 29W

USB-C Power Adapter 61W

USB-C Power Adapter 87W

USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter

USB-C SD Card Reader

USB-C Porsche Design Hard Drive 1TB

USB-C Porsche Design Hard Drive 2TB

USB-C Porsche Design Hard Drive 4TB

USB-C Porsche Design Hard Drive 5TB

USB-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter

USB-C Flash Drive 64GB

USB-C to VGA Adapater

USB-A to USB-C Cable 2.0

USB-A to USB-C Cable 3.1

USB-C to USB-C Cable 3.1

USB-C to Mini-B Charge Cable 2.0

USB-C to Micro-B Charge Cable 2.0

USB-C to Micro-B Charge Cable 3.1

 

 

 

Re-Enabling the Startup Chime on the 2016 MacBook Pro


Every Mac since 1993 has awaked with a signature startup chime. Its presence signals a succesful passage of the initial hardware and firmware checks. Its absence, however, could aid introubleshooting a failed boot attempt. The tone became so associated with Apple that they trademarked the F-sharp major chord. This traditional sound (along with the glowing Apple logo) will end with the release of the Late-2016 Macbook Pro.

There was always a way to silence the chime with a few command lines in Terminal. Thankfully, lovers of the chime can reactivate it with a single line of code. Just open Spotlight and search for Terminal. Once it has opened a command line simply type sudo nvram BootAudio=%01 and the chime will return on your next reboot.

There was always something comforting about hearing that chord and then seeing your desktop spring to life. Personally, I’m looking forward to hearing it again. 

⓱Apple – Where Have All the ‘iPhone-Killers’ Gone?

Mudslinging is easy – and it’s all the rage right now. Just tune in to a presidential debate if there’s any doubt. Yet with Apple’s rivals falling by the wayside there has been no gloating and no self-congratulatory proclamations. In the last few months we’ve seen whole product lines from Windows Phone, Nokia, Blackberry and the Samsung Galaxy Note go extinct. And still not a hint of Schadenfreude from Apple.

What a contrast to Microsoft’s mock funeral for the iPhone in 2010. At the time Windows Phone 7 had yet to ship and the iPhone was on the brink of becoming a cultural phenomenon. Somehow the Microsoft’s mobile OS team felt compelled to celebrate a premature victory. The results are truly cringeworthy.

There’s so much to love about this video: the dated format, the garish costumes, the cheesy choreography and most of all the sweet, sweet irony.

Apple is keeping it classy and that speaks volumes to their corporate culture. Steve Jobs had famously stated that in order for Apple to win it’s not necessary for its rivals to lose.

At the time that sounded counter-intuitive or even naive. But this week’s events show just how prescient those words were.

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⓱mobile – AT&T Waives Data Limits and Late Payment Fees in Areas Impacted by Hurricane Matthew

AT&T recognizes the value of cell service during the chaos and confusion following a natural disaster. As a result they will not upcharge costumers who exceed their data limits or miss payment deadlines in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. 

I am a resident of central Florida who was displaced from my home due to a mandatory evacuation. Despite the power outages and wind damage we had no loss of cellular service. 

Mobile phones are proven life savers and therefore indispensable in the aftermath of a natural disaster. I commend AT&T for supporting their customers in this time of hardship. 

Road Kill – Apple Knocks Off 3 Competitors in a Month

Last month several sources reported the Jawbone UP activity tracker stopped shipping and the device maker’s bills were going unpaid. Updated reports suggest there is still hope for Jawbone’s recovery but expectations remain low. Now Microsoft has confirmed that the Band 2 will be discontinued once the current supply has been depleted.

This news comes just as the second generation Apple Watch is hitting shelves. The Series 2 is being heavily promoted for its fitness capabilities rather than a do-it-all smart watch. Apple recently added social sharing of fitness achievements to better compete with the the growing community of FitBit users.

The remaining manufacturers have aggressively updated their product lines in preparation for the Christmas buying season. The activity tracking market, however, is shaping up to be a two horse race between Apple and FitBit. Much like the smartphone market it is Apple that will dominate in revenue while it’s competitors fight over market share.

Despite their impressive offerings TomTom and Garmin can’t afford to take the Apple Watch lightly. If there’s any doubt just ask Blackberry who quit phone production last week.

⓱life – YouTube’s “Good Guy of the Year”

He rides his skateboard to work, has 5 million YouTube subscribers and is GQ’s ‘New Media Man of The Year’. Filmmaker Casey Neistat is a YouTube phenomenon with big numbers and a bigger heart.

His YouTube channel is a daily video blog that chronicles New York life through his own unique lens. It has a total of ONE BILLION views and typically generates another 1 million or more per post. Last month he broke records with his documentation of a $21,000 seat upgrade on a United Arab Emirates flight from Dubai. It has received over 21 million views in less than two weeks. His current review of the Mavik drone has gone viral to a similar effect.

Casey’s UPS driver Marlan Franklyn is a frequent on-camera personality by virtue of his endless product deliveries to the studio. On Sept 29, 2016 Casey posted a 10 minute video entitled “He Needs a Little Help” that included a cameo by Marlan. In it he detailed his sister Merlex’s plight on the Carribean island of St. Vincent. She is suffering from severe diabetes and failing kidneys but can no longer afford treatment.

At Casey’s urging Marlan started a GoFundMe with a goal of $125,000 to cover her medical bills. In just 5 days since Casey’s mention donations surpassed $151,000 and the effort was suspended. They plan to re-open donations to benefit the island hospital’s dialysis unit.

YouTube began 11 years ago as a venue for the sharing of mindless home videos. It has evolved into a social media juggernaut such that a 90 second video appearance (multiplied by 2.3 million views) can blossom into a life-altering event. Thanks to people like Casey Neistat it’s a place where cat videos and miracles can live in the same feed.

⓱fitness – Real-Time Heart Rate Monitoring with Apple Watch

The original Apple Watch only allowed on-demand measurement of your heart rate (HR).  This was triggered manually using a glance or the watch’s Health app. WatchOS 2.0 added a complication that brought this data to the watch face. WatchOS 3.0 and an increasingly open Health API now enables continuous real-time HR monitoring on your wrist.

Apple’s own native iPhone app gives only a rudimentary display of random heart rates.

Cardiogram is an iPhone app with a strongly integrated Apple Watch app and complication.

The Cardiogram app automatically collects heart rate data 200 times throughout the day. The data is displayed on iPhone a variety of graphs related to your activity, mood and dietary habits.

The app imports additional health info such as calories burned, standing hours, exercise and step count. In combination this gives an excellent picture of your heart’s efficiency.

This information can be optionally shared with a trainer or friends via Facebook, email or Twitter. Participants can compare their results to the database of all other Cardiogram users anonymously. Users who opt-in will be able to participate in the University of California’s Health eHeart Study.

Apple has often chosen to give third party apps the tools to create robust apps while their own native apps remained rather simplistic (ex. Weather app on iPhone). Cardiogram has taken the lead in collection and interpretation of HR data. It takes only a minimal effort on the user’s part to create a comprehensive picture of your overall cardiac health. It is medically proven that heart rate is directly related to overall cardiovascular fitness. Now it’s easier than ever to measure with the Apple Watch and Cardiogram.

⓱news – HP Intentionally Bricks Printers with a Firmware Update – Cites Security Risk Nonsense


Earlier this month Hewlett Packard released a firmware update that required HP branded ink in order for its printers to function. Users of third-party ink cartridges were surprised by error messages and out if service printers. Many consumers had owned the printers several years and didn’t realize the software updated automatically until their machines were locked down.
HP-branded ink costs about twice as much as generic suppliers. The company cites higher quality and greater security as reasons for the price difference. Their smart cartridges contain a chip that reports ink levels and performance but also reports back to HP its authenticity. While it is believable that grossly inferior ink could cause hardware problems it is a stretch to invoke security fears as a scare tactic. Printer cartridges do not store and sensitive information or allow access the the computer’s hard drive.

HP customer service was immediately overwhelmed by troubleshooting requests upon the updates release. Customers are now expressing resent that HP changed the way their owned equipment operates. This was compounded by the feeling that HP virtually reached into consumers homes in a profit motivated maneuver.

In an effort to minimize adverse public relations HP has promised to remove the digital lock on an upcoming update. In the meantime users of HP printers must either swap out their generic cartridges or unplug their printers.

HP has a dominant market share but recently been losing ground to Epson. Epson’s popular EcoTank printer line has deleted the disposable cartridges altogether. Instead they allow consumers to buy quality bottled ink at low cost and periodically fill a tank housed in the printer. A 2 year ink supply is included with the Epson rather than the trial size cartridges HP provides.

HP’s lack of foresight and slow response to the controversial update will further push consumers away from the cartridge-based systems.

⓱lifehacks – 6 Bizzare Amazon Dash Buttons (and 17 Incredibly Useful Ones)


The Dream: You notice there’s just enough coffee for a few more cups so you press the Dash Button attached to your Keurig. Two days later the K-cups are on your doorstep. Caffeine withdrawals are averted. You are living in the future.

The Reality: The Amazon Dash Button is a WiFi connected dongle that reorders your favorite product with the press of a button. Once Dash Button is pressed, the indicator light will turn green and a notification is sent to your smartphone. You’ll never run out of your essentials again.

Dash Button comes with a reusable adhesive and a removable hook to hang or stick the button right where you need it.

They are effectively free as the $5 cost is credited to your account upon your first button press. They are exclusive to Amazon Prime Members and arrive without shipping charges. There’s no excuse not to grab a handful and give them a try.

You can start a FREE 30-Day Amazon Prime Membership here.

The Ridiculous…

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It’s hard to believe that some of these items exist and even harder to imagine the scenario where they would be useful. These make more sense as promotional novelties rather than a saleable good. Many LOL’s were had in the marketing meetings that conjured up these oddities. I gave a few of these as gag gifts but now wonder if they’ve been put to use.

  1. Trojan Condoms – exactly where do you hang this button?
  2. Dude Male Wipes – man has survived 200,000 years without these
  3. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – because there’s always a healthier alternative
  4. Nerf Gun Ammo – you should outgrow these before they need replenishment
  5. Doritos Chips. Slim Jim [tied] – Cannot technically be classified as junk food because there is no actual food in the ingredient list
  6. Play-Doh – if you keep running out of this stuff I’m worried your kid is eating it. I used the same can my entire childhood

 

The Incredibly Specific…


This is not a jab at any listed product or their loyal users. I’m just questioning if there’s a big enough market to justify the existence of a dash button. Even the narrow demographic that uses these would only rarely need to place an repeat order.

  1. 3-Ring Binders – Wilson Jones. You don’t lose them, they don’t go out of style and they last forever
  2. Dry Erase Markers & Art Pencils – Derwent. Quartet.
  3. Poop Relief Pills – Digestive Advantage. Culturelle
  4. Snot Relief – Mucinex. Surprised they didn’t co-market this with the facial tissues button
  5. Guitar Strings – d’Addario. Going to the music store is more fun
  6. Sunflower Seeds – David. One box is already a lifetime supply
  7. Septic Tank Treatment – RidX. Call the plumber or try the constipation stuff above
  8. Cocktail Mix – Amoretti. You still have to go to the liquor store so you’re not saving a trip
  9. Candles – Jolie. I’ve never burned an entire candle to the end. Because electricity

 

The Truly Useful…

Household goods make perfect sense. These items are nearly universal in use and consumed at high volume. At any given time you are likely to be low on at least one of these. Despite the inconvenience of running out most of them don’t warrant a separate drive to the market (toilet paper being the obvious exception).

  1. Laundry & Dishwasher Detergent – Tide. All. Gain. Cascade. Downy. Finish. Clorox. Snuggle. Persil. OxiClean. Affresh. Wisk. Dropps
  2. Toilet Paper – Charmin. Angel Soft. Quilted Northern. You can’t live without it
  3. Paper Goods – Bounty. Brawny. Dixie. Puffs. Seventh Generation. Hammermill Copier Paper. Vanity Fair Napkins. As long as you recycle
  4. Drinking Water – SmartWater. Fiji. Dasani. VitaminWater. ONE Coconut Water. Zico Pure Coconut Water. This stuff is too heavy to lug home from the store. Let them bring it to you instead
  5. Razors & Blades – Gillette. Schick Men’s. Schick Silk Ladies. Throw them out before they get dull and rusty
  6. Batteries – Energizer. Rayovac. So may electronics
  7. Feminine Hygiene – Carefree. Playtex. For her
  8. Coffee & K Cups – Maxwell House. Starbucks. Brooklyn BeanPeet’s. illy. illy Bottled. Honest Tea. Pure Leaf Tea. The best part of waking up
  9. Pet Food – Purina. Wellness Natural. Greenies. Solid Gold. It’s bulky and smells up the trunk of your car. Leave it to UPS
  10. Baby Food – Gerber. Honest Kids. Plum Organics . Kids gotta eat
  11. Baby Wipes – Elements. Milk Baby. Aquaphor Baby. Kids gotta poop
  12. Hand & Bath Soap – Dial Bath & Shower. Dial Liquid Hand SoapOlay. Cleanliness counts
  13. Adult Diapers – Depend. Very discrete to buy online. You don’t want to stand in line at Walgreen’s with a cart full of these
  14. Kitty Litter – Arm & Hammer. Litter Genie. If you could just teach the cat to press the button. But no thumbs
  15. Toner Cartridges – True Image. The ‘Low Toner’ light comes on and the order goes in
  16. Garbage Bags – Hefty. Glad. SimpleHuman. Ziploc. These things seem to run out quicker towards the end of the box.
  17. Vitamins and Supplements – Vega Protein. MegaRed Fish Oils. VitaFusion Adult Gummies. L’il Critters Kids Gummies. SmartyPants GummyEstroven Menopause Relief. Azo Bladder Health. Azo Bladder Control. Osteo BiFlex. Schiff Glucosamine. Move Free Joint HealthNew Chapter Multivitamin. New Chapter Fish Oil. New Chapter Zyflamend Whole Body. New Chapter Bone Health. Nutiva Hemp Protein. Optimum Whey Protein. Something for everybody…


The Missing in Action…

Domino’s Pizza – I would use this one every week. Please make this

You can probably figure several of these that would make your life easier. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how seamlessly they fit into my shopping habits. When Amazon offers 1 hour drone delivery on the condoms I’ll move it to the ‘Useful’ list. Long live “the internet of things”.

 

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